I kept a number of ferrets in my youth; they are absolutely fascinating animals and make wonderful pets. My brother worked them, something I wasn’t too keen on – memories of Watership Down seriously affected my view of rabbiting. Instead of hunting, I far preferred the day-to-day care and breeding of my mustelid pets.

Recently, I wrote a piece on keeping ferrets and ferreting for Country Smallholding Magazine, and it reawakened memories of one particularly spooky ferreting expedition many years ago.

At that time, in the late 1980’s, we lived in Cuffley, a commuter village (within sight of Canary Wharf). Right behind our home lay miles and miles of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside with numerous rabbit warrens for our jill ferret (named Bobby, after the stroppy teen character in Home & Away) to explore.

One extremely good rabbiting spot was on the banks of a large pond. It literally swarmed with rabbits.

On an early summer evening we (me, my brother and a friend called Russell) all set off across the fields with our ferret in her travelling box and armed with our rabbiting nets.

When we reached the desired spot, shaded by pine trees, Marc and Russell disappeared into the thick undergrowth (with ferret and nets) and I sat on a fallen pine branch and ‘kept watch’ for the farmer!

Several minutes later, a couple of wide-eyed rabbits streaked past me, fleeing from the tiny musky terror that had so rudely invaded their home.

I could hear my brother and Russell arguing in the bushes.

“You didn’t peg the net down properly…”

“Yes, I did…”

Suddenly I became aware of a strange humming sound that seemed to fill the evening air.

Intrigued by what was making the hypnotic noise I jumped down off of the branch and walked out onto the dusty track.

Looking down it, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, for coming towards us – sweeping across the meadow – was a group of figures.

The tall figures were all dressed in shimmering white cloaks and hoods.

I raced back to my brother and Russell with a similar countenance to the terrified rabbits that had just run past me.

“You’ve got to get out of there, the Klu Klux Clan are coming!!”

“The what?”

“There’s loads of blokes in white cloaks coming towards us…”

My brother and his friend clearly thought I was joking and continued rabbiting.

“Seriously,” I yelled, “We have to go NOW!”

Something about the urgency in my voice obviouslyunsettled Russell who emerged from the undergrowth to have a look for himself.

He stood next to me, “so, where are…”

His voice trailed off as he took in the extraordinary sight of the humming cloaked figures moving slowly towards us.

He turned and raced back to my brother, “Marc, you’ve got to come now…I’m not joking.”

“I can’t get Bobby out the hole…”

“Then leave her there.” He yelled.

My brother finally emerged onto the track to take in the strange sight for himself.

Having seen enough, without a word, the two lads just took off across the field.

I simply couldn’t leave Bobby there, so I dived into the undergrowth just as her head appeared out of the burrow. I swept her up and raced after my brother and Russell.

We never did find an explanation for the bizarre cloaked procession – far from any roads – a sighting three separate individuals witnessed.

Maybe it was our just desserts for rabbiting without the farmer’s permission. If you are interested in ferreting please do get the landowner’s agreement. You can read more about ferreting and keeping ferrets from experts Bill Silk and Anthony Devine in my feature for Country Smallholding Magazine. I’ve also added some incredible photographs that sadly didn’t make the final cut.

Copyright Bill Silk
Copyright Bill Silk
Copyright Bill Silk
Copyright Bill Silk
Copyright Anthony Devine
Copyright Anthony Devine
Copyright Anthony Devine